Government bends over backward to fix his status, make him
citizen before deployment
In a perfect world free of glitches, one 380th Air Expeditionary
Wing pilot would have arrived at his deployed location hassle-free.
But as glitches go, the one this officer ran into was one of the
It all started when Maj. Donald Temple, a 10-year veteran of the
U.S. Marine Corps and almost four-year veteran of the Air Force,
tried to get a passport.
Major Temple, a U-2 pilot from Beale Air Force Base, Calif.,
discovered when he applied for a passport that the State Department
still showed him as pending to become a U.S. citizen.
Knowing he was born in
Germany and adopted by Americans as an infant, it was still a
complete shock to the 38-year-old who had been marking the
“U.S. citizen” block on forms all his life.
“After 14 years of traveling the world in the military on
an ID card and orders, I finally had a need for a passport and
applied for one six weeks before this deployment,” Major
He was told there was a problem with his citizenship pertaining
to his adoption records and birth certificate, and was referred to
a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau.
Imagine his surprise at arriving there and being shown his
“green card” under his original birth name, and a baby
picture he had never seen before.
“No one in my family is a lawyer or an immigration expert.
When the paperwork and the lawyer said the process was complete in
1966, my parents took them at their word,” Major Temple said.
After all, he had a certificate of adoption stating he was “a
citizen by birth of the United States.”
It turns out his parents actually only had to file one more
document before his 18th birthday, get him sworn in, and he would
have become a citizen.
“Eighteen came and went, taxes were paid, wars were
fought, no men in black suits and badges came and got me. It took
getting a passport to identify the problem,” Major Temple
With time ticking away,
and his presence planned for and desperately needed on his upcoming
deployment, he was blessed with several small miracles of
bureaucracy in getting the problem solved.
“My caseworker bent over backward and made sure the
paperwork pressed through as quickly as possible,” he
Four weeks before his scheduled deployment date, he paid the
$400 fee to become a naturalized citizen, went through the FBI
background check, fingerprints, photos, and he filed all the proper
“On a Friday, five days before I was scheduled to depart,
my caseworker called and said they were ready for my final
interview,” the major said.
He immediately went to take the mandatory civics test for
The major remembers three questions: How many amendments are
there to the constitution?; What amendments guarantee Americans the
right to vote?; and Who lives in the White House?
He said he was grateful for the easier ones, because he had not
With the test passed and all the other necessary squares filled,
Major Temple was sworn in and given a certificate of
The following Monday morning, he and his wife drove to the
passport office in San Francisco where another one of those
bureaucratic miracles stepped in.
“The lady who had turned me down six weeks prior
remembered who I was and my situation because they had never seen
it before -- neither had the USCIS for that matter,” he
As there were no appointments to be had, the passport office
worker made his case a priority, and by that afternoon, he had a
new passport. The next morning, he was on a plane for Southwest
Asia with his passport in hand.
He now jokes that as a naturalized citizen he will never be
president. His friends and co-workers are quick to tease him,
pointing out that citizenship was the least of his worries for
As the newest U.S. citizen of the 99th Expeditionary
Reconnaissance Squadron, his co-workers recognized his
“achievement” recently, surprising him with a cake and
an American flag.
Now he simply hopes that going home will be easier than leaving
(Our thanks to 1st Lt. Kelley Jeter, 380th Air Expeditionary
Wing Public Affairs)